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Pot for paranoid pups?

Written by Judie Amyot - Originallly published in The Suburban

Separation anxiety. These two words are often the reason why many dogs are given up by people who simply can’t cope with a pet that cannot deal with its owner’s absence. You come home to a war zone of torn curtains, chewed up sofa cushions and overturned garbage bags — not to mention liquid and solid deposits that are meant for outside.

Dogs have been prescribed various medications over the years to keep them calm and relaxed when hyperactivity overtakes them. Results are mixed with some successes and some failures as ineffective attempts to “train” separation anxiety out of a dog lead desperate owners to resort to drugs. Like people, dogs are individuals regardless of breed and no two will respond the same way to whatever method is being used to tone down their anxiety. And since some drugs may have serious side effects, they are not always a viable long-term strategy.

But what if you could mellow your little fellow with something a little more natural — like hemp? Shocked? Before you jump to conclusions and have visions of your dog glassy eyed with a foolish grin, rest assured that hemp, unlike the marijuana derivative of the cannabis sativa species, contains only trace amounts of the psychoactive drug Delta-9 THC.

Hemp-based pet products and supplements are not new. Seattle company Canna-Pet has been in the hemp-for-pets business for a few years, offering food products and supplements to treat anxiety-related behaviours as well as joint problems.

New York veterinarian Dr. Stephen Katz has partnered with Dixie Brands Inc., which conducts cannabinoid extraction. Dr. Katz has spent a decade developing a powder called Therabis, which he claims is sprinkled over your dog’s food to quickly and effectively treat common ailments like separation anxiety, itching and joint mobility issues. Katz claims there are 400 different compounds in the cannabis plant and only one of those compounds, Delta-9 THC, has a psychogenic component to it that gets you high. He maintains that Therabis does not contain this but that its primary active component is Cannabidiol (CBD), which is a known highly effective anti-inflammatory.

Dixie Brands claims that Therabis combines CBD and hemp along with ingredients such as bromelain, quercetin and green-lipped mussels into one formula that alleviates itching.

Dr. Katz hopes to move ahead with the sale and distribution of his Therabis powders in November, which will be available online. At present, the powders consist of sachets of mixed and measured doses of hemp and other natural ingredients for specific ailments but he plans to also develop food-based products.

So far, his study results have been encouraging in that they have revealed virtually no side effects, not even lethargy. Dr. Katz claims the treatment calms dogs down and at a cost of roughly $1 a day, is most likely a treatment for life like any therapeutic supplement that works.

Medicinal marijuana has been prescribed for humans for quite some time now and in many cases has shown positive results. Dosing dogs with it would have to be a very personal decision with any risks weighed and all concerns addressed beforehand. Availability in Canada is not known at this time. As always, never do anything for or to your dog that you feel could be detrimental. Assuming Therabis would be classified as medicinal rather than recreational pot, legalization shouldn’t be an issue. After all, no one would want their dog to be saddled with a criminal record.

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